Authorities confirmed on Thursday, May 14, that two cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been identified in Bangladesh's southeastern Cox's Bazar district, home to around 1 million Rohingya refugees. The two men, a refugee and a local resident with links to the camps, have since been isolated and are being treated at a local clinic. There have long been concerns over the potential for COVID-19 to spread quickly within the Cox's Bazar refugee camps, where sanitation infrastructure is limited and population density is high. The district has been under a tight lockdown since early April, with traffic movements restricted and NGOs forced to severely reduce staffing levels in the refugee camps. However, some groups have raised concerns that the restrictions and other measures brought in before the pandemic risk exacerbating any outbreak within the camps.
Thursday's announcement came a day after Bangladesh's national COVID-19 lockdown was extended by a further two weeks until at least May 30. Although the government began to ease certain restrictions on May 4, including allowing the reopening of some agricultural and manufacturing sites, in an attempt to reduce the economic impact of the outbreak, the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the country has continued to rise. Thursday saw the highest single-day increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh, with 1,202 people testing positive for the virus, while daily fatalities have also remained high.
In light of the upcoming Eid-al-Fitr holiday, shopping malls will be allowed to open until 17:00 (local time) with social-distancing measures in place. However, interdistrict travel continues to be prohibited and further local travel restrictions have been implemented in some areas. Travel via sea, rail, and air routes continues to be suspended, while overland public transportation is prohibited.
A daily nationwide curfew remains in effect from 18:00 to 06:00 (local time), with anyone found violating the curfew liable to face prosecution. Educational institutions are closed, although pharmacies, food markets, and other essential businesses continue to operate. Authorities continue to advise the public to stay at home and to only travel if necessary.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has extended its international and domestic flight suspension until May 30 in line with the government-imposed lockdown. However, cargo operations, air ambulances and special relief, evacuation, and repatriation flights are exempt from the suspension.
As of May 15, authorities have confirmed 20,065 cases of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, including 298 fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
Copyright and Disclaimer